Circadian PERformance in breast cancer: a germline and somatic genetic study of PER3 VNTR polymorphisms and gene co-expression

NPJ Breast Cancer. 2021 Sep 10;7(1):118. doi: 10.1038/s41523-021-00329-2.


Polymorphisms in the PER3 gene have been associated with several human disease phenotypes, including sleep disorders and cancer. In particular, the long allele of a variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism has been previously linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Here we carried out a combined germline and somatic genetic analysis of the role of the PER3VNRT polymorphism in breast cancer. The combined data from 8284 individuals showed a non-significant trend towards increased breast cancer risk in the 5-repeat allele homozygous carriers (OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 0.97-1.42). We observed allelic imbalance at the PER3 locus in matched blood and tumor DNA samples, showing a significant retention of the long variant (risk) allele in tumor samples, and a preferential loss of the short repetition allele (p = 0.0005). Gene co-expression analysis in healthy and tumoral breast tissue samples uncovered significant associations between PER3 expression levels with those from genes which belong to several cancer-associated pathways. Finally, relapse-free survival (RFS) analysis showed that low expression levels of PER3 were linked to a significant lower RSF in luminal A (p = 3 × 10-12) but not in the rest of breast cancer subtypes.